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United States to invest over $7 billion in Pacific Islands to counter China's influence

United States to invest over $7 billion in Pacific Islands to counter China's influence Photo: The US will allocate more than 7 billion dollars to the islands of the Pacific Ocean (Getty Images)

The administration of American President Joe Biden plans to allocate over $7 billion to fund three Pacific island nations with which the United States maintains economic and defense ties, according to the Financial Times.

The spokeswoman for the State Department, Jane Bocklage, stated that President Biden's budget request for the fiscal year 2024 includes funding of $7.1 billion for the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Bocklage said that Washington is working to finalize negotiations with the three island nations regarding the extension of the Compact of Free Association (COFA), which expires in 2024 for Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands.

The three countries, known as Freely Associated States (FAS), have complained that aid has not kept pace with US commitments. While they continue to maintain close ties with Washington, critics warn that failure to reach new terms could push them towards seeking funding or expanding trade and tourism with China's communist regime.

China's position

During diplomatic maneuvering, Beijing has successfully persuaded some Pacific island nations to switch their diplomatic allegiance from Taipei to Beijing.

Taiwan remains diplomatically recognized by only four Pacific island nations.

Last year, Beijing signed numerous agreements with some Pacific island nations like Samoa and the Solomon Islands. However, due to a lack of consensus among Pacific island leaders, in May 2022, the region's countries failed to sign a comprehensive security and economic agreement.

Earlier, China stepped up military actions against Taiwan in the "gray zone," saturating areas around the island with air balloons, drones, and civilian vessels.

In this way, Beijing seeks to wear down its opponent ahead of a potential open conflict.